My Grand Mother Was A Child Bride.
Don’t tell me I mistake patriarchy for a fashion statement.
My grand mother tells me that she bled for the first time after she got married. She was a child bride. She wasn’t educated on sex, and her extremely awkward sex after a month with my grandfather winced her in pain for two reasons. Number one, my grandfather was again a child groom, and he wasn’t as well educated on sex.
Those were the days, when India was under the turmoil of post partition. And my Granny’s dad was Pharsi Maastar to the children of the Nawaab of the princely state of Junagadh. Meaning my great grand dad was the private tutor to the children of the Nawaab Mahabat Khan, the third. He taught them Persian. The partition between India and Pakistan rendered the Nawaab’s, now ex-lineage, defunct. He with his wives, and more than one and a half dozen kids, fled to Pakistan. My great grand dad then was jobless, and under the pressure he gave away his prized daughter into a marriage, when she was hardly 12.
She often repeats her story, perhaps she finds solace into the repetition. She says that in those days, in Indian house holds nikah was sacred, but the couple’s proximity was counted as sin, let alone if they just stole a lingering look.
My grand dad was little older to her. Both raved for each others closeness, despite their bodies knew nothing about the sex. It was almost one month when they could finally do, with lots of fear of being caught, ironically.
She recounts that as the most horrifying act for both of them, it pained my young grand dad too. They never talked while doing, neither did they looked at each other. As if committing a sin.
She screamed her lungs, when her undies were stained for the first time. Shamefaced, she went to her Mother in law to confess. Her mother in law was a tough nut to crack. An audacious woman who had commanding presence in the huge household, where my granny was just a speck of dust, or at least treated as such. It was her first menstruation, and then she was asked to keep a ragged cloth torn from an old worn comforter, that was safe-kept for the women’s cyclic appearances. And her Father in law was hot-tempered leader of the clan.
Around thirteen she conceived a baby, and while in her third trimester my grand dad went to Rangoon, now Chittagong, to work in a jute mill. My grand dad came to my pregnant baby granny, and formally informed her that he was going to Bangladesh for work.
Only one sentence!
My teenaged granny’s heart ached for being close to him, but he had other responsibilities to bear.
She blew a chant for Godspeed behind his back!
It was a crib death. SIDS. Her first baby died in her crib while she was a week old.
I fail to imagine the pain of young girl. My grand dad received the death news there after 30 days, and he reverted his condolences, which reached to her after 30 days again by snail-paced telegram.
Later after 3 decades in my late thirties, when my grand dad was no more physically in our world, I read hand written letters by him. The pangs of his loss, his first child felt afresh.
Well, but then she dealt it all alone, being cursed for killing her first baby out of sheer and willful ignorance.
How glorious and dark, histories of normal people can be!
He again came back to India. My granny recounts their mating to that of cats, hasty and alert!
Every time he came, he’d make my granny pregnant, in same ungratifying fashion. She bore him 9 children, including my mum, out of which 3 were fated crib death. While my granny was ruthlessly inflicted punishment for the death of her own babies.
The family, her in laws alleged her to be the woman who was a cursed and ill fated. Or she was under a shadow of a witch, and she practiced witchcraft to keep my grand dad at toes.
She was taken to an exorcist who, infused her nostrils with camphor and advice them a treatment to exorcise the witch from her body. She was tied to the wall and beaten up with a flog barbarically, until her inner witch promised to shed away from her. For days she flinched in pain, after her treatment while lactating my mum.
My grand dad took all this silently, may be his age didn’t permit him to raise his voice against the sheer cruelty.
And to hide his agony and pain he fled to Chittagong.
My granny, now a sane octogenarian opens up her bag of stories which leaves me spell-bound.
I wonder the societal milieu that considered patriarchy as the foundation of family then and now both.
I wonder how woman, like my granny took all the stabs of betrayal and pain, silently. Even though she had her clear notions on her stand as woman.
There were ill practices in those times in Indian subcontinent, where a woman was subjected to different forms of tortures in different state. Like for her when she befriended a boy of her age, in absence of my grand dad, she was thwacked and herded like an animal. She had to swear upon her loyalty in the cruelest way.
Her both the feet were tied with iron chain, and she was flung into a well like a pebble stone, to prove her sin-less friendship with that boy.
Mystically, she strived to stay afloat.
And then was declared sin-less.
I get on my nerves when today some unripe man comes and tells me that patriarchy is a prevalent fashion, a mistaken set up. I coil inside out. The conspiracy that was hatched centuries back, has no clean ties.
And the folklore says that it’s a fashionable rant.
How do we rule the roots of the branches when the main trunk is chopped off?